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Your Gums May Save Your Life


Stem cells now have an easy and superior source — gum tissue.As per latest lab report.

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The history of modern medicine has rarely witnessed anything as controversial as stem cell therapy. Exponents swear by its potential to change the face of treatment and alleviate suffering. Taking advantage of this, unscrupulous medicos across the world have used the therapy to make a quick buck. Their claims — which are, of course, unsubstantiated — have caused further damage, almost discrediting this treatment method that explores the possibility of introducing new cells into damaged tissues to cure a disease or an injury.

As the name suggests, stem cells are capable of growing into various types of cells found in the human body. They can help form bones, muscles and even heart and brain cells. Medical scientists hope they can offer an answer to many diseases that have been so far regarded as incurable.

An enormous amount of research is required to take the therapy to a standard where it can be put to use extensively. However, there is a problem — providing more and more researchers easy access to stem cells is a daunting task.

A team of Indian researchers has found a better source for at least one important type of stem cells. Scientists led by Mohan Wani at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune, have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) — which have the potential to regenerate muscles, bones and even nerve cells — can be extracted from human gum tissue.

Stem cells are of different types. Some are pluripotent — that is, they can be grown into all types of cells found in the human body. Human embryos are a good source of pluripotent stem cells. Most of the ethical issues relating to stem cell research are in connection with these stem cells.

The MSCs, on the other hand, are multipotent — that is, they can grow into only certain types of cells. Scientists have shown in the lab that MSCs can be used to regenerate bones, cartilage and muscles, but this is yet to become a line of treatment.

Studies in the past have shown that MSCs are present in virtually all organs and tissues in the body. But they are normally harvested from bone marrow, the soft tissue inside the bones. One of the reasons, perhaps, is that the technique to extract bone marrow has been around for more than three decades. Bone marrow transplant has been a popular method of treating many blood disorders, including thalassaemia and certain blood cancers.

However, the process of extracting bone marrow cells is painful, particularly for the elderly. “Harvesting bone marrow from the iliac crest of the pelvic bone is a painful course. Moreover, you need to extract the tissue in a large quantity as the number of MSCs in it is low,” says Wani.

Gum tissue, on the other hand, not only contains more stem cells but also of a more homogenous type. Bone marrow contains more than one type of stem cell. Besides, the process of harvesting stem cells from gum tissue is easy and leaves no scar, says Wani.
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The NCCS work, which appeared in the latest issue of the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications , says that gum tissue can be a superior source of stem cells for several reasons. The yield of MSCs from bone marrow ranges from 0.001 to 0.01 per cent. In case of gum tissue, “we are expecting a four to six-fold increase,” says Wani.

The study looks interesting, says Maneesha Inamdar, a researcher at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, who works in the area of stem cells. Oral cells are more accessible and hence could be a better alternative to bone marrow, she observes.

Another expert from Christian Medical College, Vellore, however, is not so hopeful. “I do not anticipate people lining up to have their gingival (gum) tissue biopsied to produce these cells, nor do I see any dramatic impact of the use these cells in the clinic in the near future,” says the scientist, who prefers to remain anonymous.

There are other benefits of stem cells extracted from gum tissue, says Wani. The scientists, who grew many generations of the cells in the lab, found that they could hold their inherent properties for much longer than those derived from bone marrow. “These cells exhibited no abnormalities and are hence safe for clinical applications,” Wani told KnowHow.

As the next step, the Pune researchers plan to use to the stem cells derived from gum tissue to regenerate different types of human tissues.

So take care of your gums, for they will take care of you one day, if needed.

Massaging of Gum with a finger and rinsing the mouth at least two to three times daily after  eating, is the easiest way to keep the gum muscles strong &  healthy.

You may click to see:->Home Treatments for Gum Disease

Source : The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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Jet Lag to be History

Scripps Research scientists say that they have determined the molecular structure of a plant photolyase protein, which is very similar  to the two proteins that control the circadian clock in humans and other mammals, moving a step closer to making jet lag history.

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The researchers claim that their study has even enabled them to test how structural changes affect the function of such proteins.

“The plant photolyase structure provides a much better model to use to study how the cryptochrome proteins in the human clock function than we have ever had before,” says Dr. Kenichi Hitomi, a postdoctoral research fellow at Scripps Research.

“It’s like knowing for the first time where the engine is in a car. When you know what the most important parts of the protein are, then you can begin to figure out how it functions,” the researchers added.

Dr. Elizabeth Getzoff, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, says that understanding how these proteins work may be helpful in fixing the clock when needed.

“In addition to decoding how the clock works, a long-term goal is to develop a drug to help people who can’t reset their clock when they need to, like people who work night shifts or travel long distances. Having the three-dimensional protein is a great step forward in both of those pursuits,” she says.

Working in collaboration with researchers from Scripps Research and from other institutions, including two universities in Japan, Hitomi studied Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant native to Europe and Asia that has one of the smallest genomes of all plants.

The researchers point out that just like all other plants, this plant also contains proteins known as photolyases, which use blue light to repair DNA damage induced by ultraviolet light.

They say that humans and mammals possess a homologous protein known as cryptochrome that modulates the circadian clock.

Getzoff says: “This is an amazing, and very puzzling, family of proteins, because they do one thing in plants and quite a different thing in mammals, yet these cousins all have the same structure and need the same cofactor, or chemical compound, to become activated.”

Hitomi adds: “All of these proteins were probably originally responses to sunlight. Sunlight causes DNA damage, so plants need to repair this damage, and they also need to respond to sunlight and seasons for growth and flowering. The human clock is set by exposure to sunlight, but also by when we eat, sleep and exercise.”

Hitomi and his colleagues set about producing proteins from the Arabidopsis thaliana genes that produce two related photolyase enzymes. These genes had been cloned earlier in the laboratory of co-author Dr Takeshi Todo of Kyoto University.

The researchers moved the gene from the plant into E coli bacteria to produce a lot of the protein, and later crystallized it to determine the atomic structure by using X-ray diffraction.

The researchers then produced a variety of mutant proteins in order to test the functional structure of the enzymes.

“We can now look at things that are the same and different between human and mouse cryptochromes and plant photolyases. Our results provide a detailed, comparative framework for biological investigations of both of these proteins and their functions,” says Hitomi.

He believes that his team’s findings may form the basis of drugs that can ease jet lag and regulate drug metabolism, as well as help better understand some fascinating circadian clock disorders that have been found in mice and man.

The study has been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources:The Times Of India